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When The Walls Smile And The Floors Sigh

Yesterday brought me another vacant house.

empty room

I could feel the emptiness when I walked in.

All of life had literally been sucked out of its walls, with the departure of its owners.

The walls seemed sad as their blank faces stared at me.  They looked especially pale, void of any portraits or signs of life to add a little color to their cheeks.  Just random nails poking out here and there like a bad case of acne.

The floors were clean, but flat.  Boring.  They seemed to be pining away for something to do. Their purpose ripped away from them when the moving van left the driveway.  They had gone days without even the pitter patter of little feet gracing their surface.

The silence echoed.

No whir of appliances.  No laughter or conversation.

Personality had left this four-bedroom bungalow, and now it sat lifeless as a blank slate.

This house was no longer a home.

And it was my job to make it one.

To bring something back to life and into the market of interested buyers who want more than just an empty box to look at.

This house, like all the others before and after it, had specific needs.

Specific quirks and qualities that needed to be addressed in specific ways.

Nine hours and lots of work later, it was no longer the same.

In came furniture, art, bedding.

Those protruding nails were used to hang beauty.

The floors were once again put to good use.

Empty rooms were filled with comfort and invitation.

Life was once again returning to the building.

I swear I saw the walls smile, their cheeks flush with the excitement of feeling pretty again.

Even the floors creaked a bit, seeming to sigh with gratitude for another chance to serve.

As I left, locking the door of this house-become-home, it occurred to me that each of us is not too different from this little rambler.

Unique in our quirks and qualities.  Desperate for purpose.  Longing for color and life.

And hopefully, empty.

Empty enough, trusting enough to let the Great Interior Designer come in and do what needs to be done to make our hearts into a true home.

What it was always meant to be.

A home for Him.  A home for others.

A warm, inviting place.

He can adorn those blank walls of our lives, using those nasty acne-type nails of circumstance and failure to hang beautiful pictures of glorious stories of His miraculous work.

He can give purpose to our flat floors of confusion or hopelessness.  He can show us the value of each plank and how He intends to use it to support others, to serve as a dance floor of celebration for us, Himself and others to enjoy.

He brings the color of real, true life.

He adds the comfort of His Spirit.

The music of His presence.

And, suddenly, our empty, quirky little house becomes His beautiful home.

Can you feel your walls smiling and your happy floors creaking in delight?

Isaiah 43:19 – For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Ephesians 3:17-19 –  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Philippians 1:6 – And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

 

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In The Cracks And Between The Lines

I’m standing here in front of the mirror.  Counting lines and frowning at the number.  I quickly stop myself from frowning, knowing that will only add to the sum of these unwelcome parts.

And while I’m left wondering when and where the next will show up, I remember someone from long ago….

Years ago, there was a beautiful woman in my life.

But she would never grace the cover of any magazine.

Her face was more wrinkled than any I had ever seen at her age.

Deep creases marked the entire surface.

She smiled continually, which highlighted every crack and shifted every crevice to new places. She laughed easily, crows feet reaching to laugh lines.

Crinkled velvet.  Soft and loose to the touch like a well-loved blanket.

And, to me, she was breathtakingly beautiful, as if her soul were peeking out through every indentation.

I didn’t have the privilege of knowing this lovely being when she was young, before life had its way with her, body, mind and soul.

But I had the distinct honor of enjoying what time had left in its wake.

Circumstances, joy and pain, gain and loss created something so intensely beautiful that it leaked through every pore of her wrinkled skin.

She looked like wisdom.

Love.

Gentleness.

Understanding.

Forgiveness.

In the war of life, these were the survivors that remained, alive and well, more vibrant than ever.

Her hugs melted, soothed, spoke volumes without a word.

But when her words came, when that gloriously marked face spoke, wisdom poured out like liquid gold.

Every syllable was wrapped in love and the understanding of life and human nature.  Her advice was gentle but to the point that she knew was too important to dismiss.

Every encouragement that made its way out of that crinkly velvet face went not only to the mind, but continued straight to the heart, where it would nestle down and stay. Tucked away for future use and purpose.

I have no idea what credentials this woman had or how many degrees or lack thereof existed on her resume. But it didn’t matter.

Because what she gave to the world around her wasn’t learned in a classroom or from a textbook.

She didn’t just possess knowledge.  She had attained wisdom.

A lifetime of lessons, of the ups and downs of circumstance, of great joy and deep sorrow, that not only marked and softened a face, but marked and softened a soul.

A soul that was willing to share that wisdom with those who would listen.  A soul that had KNOWN life and lived to tell the tale in a way that would benefit others.

I still see her in my mind.  Beautiful as ever. 

I have lost contact with this dear soul.  But her lessons of true wisdom, selfless giving and tender interaction will forever grace my heart.

And as time is showing itself now on MY face, I can only hope it has also done to my heart and soul what it did to hers.

Wisdom in the cracks.

Love in the lines.

Understanding in the crevices.

Beauty through a life.

James 3:17 – But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Proverbs 31:30 – Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. (MSG)

Colossians 2:2-3 – My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

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Some Sweet Inspiration From Washington State

IMG_2441IMG_2443After yesterday’s post, Marcia Robinson, from Washington State (who also happens to be my wonderfully creative aunt!) sent these pictures of things she has created in her gorgeous backyard, made from old pallets and a recycled door.  They are set as splashes of color and intrigue in what she calls her “shade garden”.

What you can’t see in the first picture is that she up-cycled an old shovel, attached it to the pallet wall and added chicken wire and flowers to adorn it. The swing you see in the second picture is actually a bit behind the “open house” entrance into her wonderland of beauty.

Love it, Aunt Marcia!  Thanks for inspiring us with your We-Do/Re-Do projects!

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Welcome To We-Do Wednesday!!!!

Okay, people.  Gonna shake things up a bit here.

Wow.  That was a huge overstatement.

Let’s try again.

I’m going to do something new on Wednesdays.

My heart is all about restoration and making the old new.  First and foremost this applies spiritually.

But a distant second is my love for physically changing old things and making them “new” again.

So We-Do Wednesday (get it? re-do/we-do? I know.  I’m so clever…;-) ) is happening.

Notice that it’s not I-Do Wednesday.  Partly, because it doesn’t start with a “W”, heh heh, but mostly because I would love for this to be a day where I hear from YOU via email, text or right here on the blog.  I want to see YOUR ideas, your We-Do Re-Do’s.  It can be a room, a piece of furniture, a small decor item or something you’ve completely repurposed.

I would love see what you’ve done and so would others! 

To those of you who say, “I’m not creative, count me out,”  I say, let’s tap into something you might not even know is there!  And if you’re still not interested, then we’ll see you on Thursday. :-)

I would love for Wednesdays to be interactive – a sharing and learning with each other.  Encouragement for all of us to take a risk and try something new on something old!

To get things started, I’ll go first.

I’ve posted pictures on Facebook of my recently redone kitchen.  That makeover from dark to light inspired me to keep it going throughout the house.

So I just completed our front room.

It went from looking like this:

photo 1-6

To this:

photo 2-5I

photo 1-5I

I loved the room as it was before, but it was, admittedly, dark.  I repainted the walls, with my accent wall as the highlight and then brought in lighter furniture pieces and area rug.  Splashes of apple green in the pillows and decor bring another dimension to the aqua walls and help to make it not only restful, but refreshing.

I searched high and low for the cream colored couch and green chair, not wanting to spend a fortune, but knowing the look I wanted.  In the process, I’ve discovered two amazing consignment furniture stores that carry high end pieces for pennies on the dollar. I was able to purchase both the couch and the chair for around $600.00 and they are not only deep seated, but extremely comfy and durable.

The canvases of my laughing children were done through Costco (very affordable!) and came directly to my front door.

My style is shifting slightly (I’m a girl, I get to do that) and I’m replacing some of my antique pieces with mid-century modern and I’m liking the old and new mix.  Clean lines with old charm.  A balance I am still figuring out.  This, also, helps in the “lightening up” process.

What do you think?

Send me some of YOUR Re-Do We-Do’s!  Creativity loves company and the cross-pollination of ideas can add to all of our minds’ stash of good ideas.

Join the fun!

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Just A Word

Sometimes it’s not just the words.

It’s the timing of those words

The tone

The hug that accompanies them

The source they come from

That brings you to tears.

Good tears.

Most times you don’t even see it coming.

You didn’t even know that you needed those healing words.

But when the tears flow and you feel a sense of refreshment after, you know your soul had been holding its breath for this type of air.

You know what I mean?

A couple of days ago, my precious friend Ruth walked up to me, hugged me and whispered into my ear such genuine and gentle words of encouragement that I fell apart at the seams.

Encouragement from this sweet woman is a weekly occurrence, so I was surprised by my tears.

Until I realized…

The words she spoke were sent directly from heaven.

She was the beautiful vessel that administered that verbal salve, but the source was Jesus Himself.

She had no way of knowing the specific words that my soul needed to hear.

To be honest, I didn’t even know.

But the Father that knows me better than I know myself? He knew.

Ruth, ever sensitive to God’s tap on her shoulder, touched a heart with heaven’s message, even though she was unaware of the exact reason.

She just did what Jesus prompted her to do.

Are you and I doing the same?

We all know words are powerful.

But when they are wrapped in the supernatural wisdom and intimate understanding of God, their impact increases exponentially.

When they are prompted by the Holy Spirit, our spiritual guidance counselor, they can touch and warm places in a person’s heart that have long been forgotten, left cold in the storms of life.

Those same words can lift the blinds of a discouraged soul and let the light of hope back in.

Someone will cross your path today. My path.

Someone who needs your words and mine, or more accurately, God’s words spoken through you and me.

Let’s pray about it as our day starts and watch for the opportunities.

You will be astounded at what God can do when we give Him our words in exchange for His own.

And someone’s day will be a little better than they ever expected….

Ephesians 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Proverbs 16:24 – Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 15:4 – Gentle words are a tree of life…

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And You Thought Your Pregnancy Days Were Over

It seems like a millennium ago.

And somehow it seems like yesterday.

Being pregnant.

I loved the fact that life was growing inside me.

pregnant belly

As my belly grew, so did the knowledge that it was inevitable that at the end of the pregnancy’s course, I would go into labor and deliver a new little being.

It’s nature’s way.

And as the day arrived and the intensity of contractions increased, it became obvious that there was no going back. Birth was going to happen whether I was ready or not.

My body couldn’t help but push out this child that had developed inside me.  The baby had grown from an embryo to a fetus and had now become its own little person.

But the story doesn’t stop with the birth.

That child was then nurtured and cared for.  He/she continued to grow and mature so quickly that sometimes it made my head spin.

Again, nature’s way.

Progression.

And though it hasn’t happened yet. one day they will also bring new life into this world and continue the process of life and birth and growth.

All of this warms my heart as I think about the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth.

But the same principles apply when we’re talking about things that aren’t quite so warm and fuzzy.

This morning I was reading James 1.  I asked God for new insights in very familiar territory.

This is what He gave me:

James 1:13-18 –

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

And there it was.

Natural progression.

The birthing process.

The truth of impregnated selfish desire being fed, growing and developing until the birth of sin is inevitable.

But like the birth of a child, it doesn’t just stop there.

Progression continues.  

And the sin, like it’s mother Desire before it, eventually gives birth to its own child.

An offspring that resembles things like guilt and fear. Shame and hiding.

It’s given name?

Death.

A hideous name that fits this ugly child.

Most likely, not physical death, but something much more ominous.

The death of parts of the soul.  

If it’s not dealt with, death will feed like a vicious, hungry. flesh-eating disease.

Nature’s progression.

I’m here to tell you from experience, it is absolutely as much a reality as the birth of my five children.

I’ve felt selfish desire grow inside me, watched it give birth to the ugly offspring of sin and then lived the nightmare of allowing it to suckle at my soul.

Birth leading to death.

Thank you, Jesus, that this is not the end of the story.

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

God had a different type of birth in mind that would change everything.  

For me.  For you.

He satisfies our healthy desires with good and perfect gifts.  Connection with Him, with others. The things that give us eternal security and earthly contentment.

He nurtures us with His love and devotion.

He is the Father who gave us BIRTH through Jesus.

This progression and delivery results in nothing but ongoing LIFE.

It’s a gift that was meant to continue giving.

Life that should beget life through us.

This is where the soul flourishes and grows and spreads to others.

I have found out the hard way, that I much prefer this type of birthing process.

What will you choose today?

The desires of the heart of GOD HIMSELF?

The pregnancy of HOPE and FREEDOM and JOY?

The inevitable delivery of LIFE?

The good and perfect gifts of the FATHER that gave you that life?

We get to choose the type of “pregnancy” we want, good or bad, the desires we feed, but the delivery will follow the course of nature itself.

And I want to swell with life….

John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

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When It’s Time To Trade The Hula For The Slow Dance

photo-50

I can hula hoop, but I can’t juggle.

I’m assuming it’s because a hula hoop requires only one focus and constant movement.

That I can do.

But juggling is for the coordinated and multi-focused who can stand still and keep more than one ball up in the air at a time.

And at that, well, I suck.

This morning that lacking showed up, unapologetically, as soon as I opened my eyes.

With extreme clarity, all I could see on the floor beside my bed were the “balls” that have scattered on the floor as I’ve allowed my new “hula hoop” schedule of frenetic movement and singular focus to take over.

Things forgotten.

 Undone.

 Done wrong.

Mistakes made.

 Things forgotten.

Wait did I already say that?

See, I told you.

But it’s not so much the things that have gotten pushed aside or stepped over that I’m worried about.

It’s the people.

In the past few weeks, my time has been spent with strangers instead of friends.  This goes with the territory of starting a new business and working in people’s homes.

After two conversations with two incredibly dear friends today, I realized that some of the balls on the floor were friends who were feeling my unintentional absence.

Somehow I’ve let it squeeze out that necessary time with the people I love most.

I hate that.

I’m sure Jesus is a little concerned as well.

But what I love about my Savior and Friend is that His gentle reminders that bring me to my knees are always served with kindness and encouragement to make a change.

If I’m listening (and finally I really am) I can hear His whisper early on in the process.  Before too much damage has been done.  Before I start crushing the balls that cover the floor.

He shows me what has fallen, where I have fallen, and helps me gather the mess I’ve left, humbly offer the apologies  of neglect needed and move forward.  Or maybe not move at all.

Maybe He’s just asking me for the thousandth time to “be still” for a little bit.  

To consider.

To pray.

To self-examine and focus on Him and His expertise on balance.

Maybe He’s putting His hands on my “hula hoop” hips and asking me to just slow dance with Him for a bit.

The thought of eventually being able to hula hoop and juggle at the same time sounds impossible to me. Both literally and metaphorically.

But I’ve heard that God has taught new tricks much more miraculous to older dogs than me.

So for today, I’m going to take some time outs with Jesus smack dab in the middle of the crazy. Sitting, dancing slowly.  And hopefully, learning from my mistakes in the art of juggling and doing it a little bit better from here on out.

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Excuse Me. Can You Give Me The Time?

I can’t wear watches.

Not that anyone really does anymore, but there is something in my system that makes clocks stop and the inside systems wind up so tight they die.

Creepy, I know.

I have no idea what causes this, but I like to say that it’s my magnetic personality that winds watches to their death. :-)

That same mythical magnet also seems to draw weird situations my way.

On Friday I was in Savers, a huge thrift store with endless “treasure” potential.

(I should probably stop myself right here.  There is no shortage of strangeness there on any given day.

But I digress….)

Because staging jobs are popping up right and left and I am financially responsible for all of my own inventory, I look for deals on some of the decor pieces I need.

Friday was a particular jackpot kind of day and I had my cart heaping with great stuff.  To the point, actually, where people were concerned for their own safety as they saw me coming toward them.

I couldn’t see over or around the pile, so I was heading to the checkout counter.  Ever distracted by “one more thing”, I noticed a man coming toward me.

He was tattered and smelled a little funny, and looking back on it, he was most likely homeless or darn near close to it.

As he approached me, he was joking about my cart in his heavy spanish accent.  Then he asked me where he could find something that I couldn’t quite make out.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that,” I said.

“I’m looking for a pinky.  I lost mine,” and he held up his weathered  and life beaten hand.  Only four callused digits and a big scar where his pinky used to be.

We laughed at the prospect of finding someone’s old finger on the shelf and he told me I needed another cart.  I agreed, but told him I couldn’t push two carts at the same time and so needed to go and pay.

“I will push the cart for you,” he insisted.

“Really?” I asked, and he nodded with such sincerity that I could’t refuse his offer.

So there we were for the next thirty minutes, perusing through other people’s discarded stuff, and laughing at what we were finding.

Two strangers with nothing in common except this store and a little bit of time.

And strange as it was, I soon realized that all he wanted, the only reason he was willing to push my cart up and down all these aisles, was because he was lonely.

He probably felt like any one of the items on the shelves in front of us.

Forgotten.

Discarded.

Ignored.

Seemingly worthless.

But he found value in helping me.  In making me laugh.  He felt like a person because he was contributing.  Because someone was looking him in the eye and actually saying, “thank you,” and meaning it.

We got to the counter, me with my two carts of things for my business, and him with his only purchase – thermal underwear.

I don’t think we ever exchanged names.  I will probably never see him again.

But he touched my life by giving the only thing he probably had in this world.

His time.

And there it is.

Full circle.

This post started with a time piece and ended with time.

Hmmmm….

I can’t wear a watch, but I can still give other people the time.

And maybe for today, I’ll just leave it at that….

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This One’s For The Mama’s….Again :-)

Jana:

Because all you mamas deserve to be recognized on this special day! xoxoxo

Originally posted on An Unrehearsed Life:

(This is a re-run from a few months ago, but it felt right to put it out there again in honor of all of us who are lovingly called “mom”.  And a special shout out to my wonderful mama.  I love you with all my heart.  Happy Mother’s Day, to all!!!!)

Calling all mama’s…

After conversations with multiple women this week whose hearts are heavy with grief or worry, my aching soul wants to bring you all in close for a group hug and the affirmation that

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

There is no information given in 7th grade health classes, when motherhood was still just a childhood fantasy, that could have prepared us for the guts and glory of this sacred calling.

When we were finally pregnant and the beauty of conception brought with it both green mornings and sleepless nights, we had no way of knowing that our…

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The Ever-Hungry Monster In The Mirror

mirror image

You know that thing where you come face to face with your own humanity and all you can say is “ewww”?

Did a heckalottathat this week.

Maybe it’s because I’m so busy and sleep deprived.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m still figuring out a new business that is coming at me at breakneck speed  or that my kitchen is being redone in my lack of spare time.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because I’ve got that nasty stuff called perfectionism running through my veins that made me react the way I did a few days ago.

Ewwww.

In the past week, I’ve discovered something especially ugly about perfectionism.

It’s a hungry beast that can never be fully satisfied.

And it wants to eat NOW.

I had a client this past week that took perfectionism to a whole new level.  It affected our entire team and anyone else working for her.

Each day, I felt afraid of her judgment, anticipating that there was no way I was ever going to get it “quite right” in her eyes.

I wasn’t alone in that feeling.

But it wasn’t until I came home to find my kitchen tiled with defective subway tiles that the same hungry monster showed its colors in me.

photo-43

This is where I overreacted.

I picked up the phone, and without taking the time to think or pray or be rational, I found myself demanding that I be reimbursed for the tile and that I remain on the schedule as planned so that my project could get done.

I wanted my tile perfect and I wanted it now.

Ewww.

Now, I absolutely shouldn’t have received that defective tile.  It was wrong.

But so was my attitude and approach.  I let my ravished perfectionism run my emotions during that phone call.

Big. Fat. Ewww.

Enter, a fresh dose of reality mixed with humility.

The “splinter” I saw in someone else’s eye was now the ginormous “log” in my own.

And I didn’t like it.

In this process of wrestling with my own character deformity, I’ve learned this:

There is a difference between the desire for excellence and need for perfection. 

 – Excellence allows for process, for failure and mistakes along the way.

Perfectionism demands immediate results with no patience for mishaps or human error.

Excellence understands that the inevitable foibles are part of the journey to a great outcome.

Perfectionism doesn’t have time for such “nonsense”.  It wants what it wants when it wants it.

Excellence savors.

Perfectionism devours.

Excellence learns things in the process and feels content when the job is done.

Perfectionism doesn’t learn a thing and will never, ever be satisfied.

Excellence finds joy.

Perfectionism only finds a new growling in it’s ever-hungry belly. 

Ewww.

Starting a new business that deals with the various personalities of clients and remodeling a kitchen at the same time has served to be not only asinine, but a great learning tool.  I’m discovering things about people.  About myself.

About the fact that God, Himself, though perfect, is gracious enough not to be a perfectionist when it comes to us very human humans.

He desires excellence and goes to great lengths to create it in us.  But He knows that it will require time, patience and forgiveness as we fall and fail along the way.

I want to be like that, don’t you?  

I don’t want to wish away the process of “getting there” whether it’s in myself, in others or in circumstances and projects.

I don’t want to spend one more minute feeding the hungry beast of perfectionism that will never be satisfied.

I want to seek excellence with the grace and patience that should accompany anything worth working toward.

And that’s probably going to start with an apology to my tile company and a side dish of crow.

Ewww….

Psalm 103:14 – For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.

Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.

James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

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